Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off Target

Civil rights and Hispanic groups are calling for a boycott of Arizona tourism and sports because of SB 1070, the illegal-immigrant crackdown law, but I'm concerned they're punishing the wrong people. Granted, a boycott -- and losing a Super Bowl -- put pressure on Arizona to adopt a Martin Luther King holiday after former Governor Evan Mecham's cancellation of it. MLK supported a boycott of a segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus system, and it became a turning point in the civil rights movement.

At the same time, I don't like the thought of hurting hundreds of thousands of workers in Arizona's tourism and sports industries. They have already weathered a recession and have nothing to do with the passage or enforcement of this law. You won't hear them asking for your papers. People who support a state boycott will likely tell you the goal is to bring about such heavy losses and grumbling from businesses that lawmakers will have no choice but reconsider. But they forget they're dealing with Arizona. Our lawmakers don't reconsider; they just cut more funding from education -- at least that's the perception. (UPDATE: Arizona lawmakers have been tweaking the law, but it's not changing minds.)

When MLK called for the bus company boycott, the action was tailored to only affect the entity he and thousands of people wanted changed. On a personal level, we carry out boycotts without calling them that: refusing to shop at certain big-box stores or buy certain products because we object to the practices of the companies behind them. However, it's tough to boycott a state government; we all have to follow the law. But we can go to court and challenge it, and indeed, several groups are either filing lawsuits or planning them. Regardless of whether you support SB 1070 or not, I would prefer opponents of the law use the courts and leave the people outside government out of the fray.

No comments: